People of Plano: Meet Education Advocate Kelley Thomas

Kelley Thomas // photo Dorly Roy, Goldenlight Creative
Kelley Thomas // photo Dorly Roy, Goldenlight Creative

Kelley Thomas is a public education proponent with a heart for Plano. She’s been a resident here for 19 years and jumped straight into the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) as soon as her first child started school. Over the years, her involvement has snowballed into an opportunity to advocate at the state level for Plano ISD. She was recently honored with the Heroes for Children award.

Kelley, could you tell us about your family?

My husband Eric and I have been married for 26 years and have two great kids. Our daughter Courtney is 20 years old, a 2018 IB graduate of Plano East and enrolled at UT Austin studying performing and visual arts. My son Kyle is a senior at Plano East. He has spent much of high school, like his sister, in theater and also runs cross country and track.

Kelley and her family // photos courtesy Thomas family
Kelley and her family // photos courtesy Thomas family

Why did you get involved in PTA?

PTA is a way for me to advocate locally for things like Art Day and Character Education, but also is a way to have a seat at the larger table in Austin where funding, testing and other child welfare laws and policies are created. As a former high school teacher in North Carolina, I knew many of the demands put on teachers and wanted to ensure that the campuses my children attended were excellently supported.

Were you surprised to be honored with the Heroes for Children award?

The award, established by the State Board of Education, is designed to recognize excellence in advocacy for education and to highlight the many outstanding volunteers whose efforts represent significant contributions to public school education in Texas. I was nominated by Sara Bonser, superintendent of Plano ISD. Just being nominated was an honor. While I have held some pretty public titles, none of what I do is for public recognition. My “why” is about lifting others up so that they can be better today than they were yesterday. I never expected to be the District 12 representative so when I was named this year’s honoree, I was speechless.

Where else are you involved in the community?

I am a proud graduate of Leadership Plano Class 35. Once our 10-month program ended, I didn’t feel like I was done learning from Leadership Plano so I volunteered to serve on the board for the next three years. I began as a committee member and then took on the role of treasurer, chair-elect and now chair.

I decided to participate in Junior League of Collin County because they raise up female leaders by encouraging their development and volunteer efforts. I served on the PISD Family Literacy volunteer group and was on the Collin County Council on Family Violence’s conference planning committee. This year I am the public affairs chair for JLCC.

Why do you love serving your community?

My heart has always leaned toward servanthood. Without volunteers, so many things can’t happen. The arts, education and our community as a whole must be supported by volunteers. For me, I have had the luxury of time and have therefore willingly used that for the greater good so that in everything, we can be better tomorrow than we were today.

 

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